Friday, June 26, 2009

An email:

My European agency confirmed (the first time) that the investigation (police and orphanages) is officially over and that they found nothing suspicious. All currently existing cases are ok. The next step will be a meeting between the court president and the orphanages, it should have taken place last Friday, then Monday/Tuesday and now it is postponed to an indefinite date.

They assume that the cases have to go through the whole process again, i. e. need new court dates.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

An email:

Our agency (United States) told us that they are going to start reopening cases and rescheduling court dates starting on July 2nd. I don’t know how long it will take to get all of us new court dates, but our agency is optimistic that our cases, at least from our agency, will be heard before the closure. They are very careful about not passing on rumors, so I tend to believe them when they say cases will be reopened late next week.

*Note: This is not the same agency that mentioned the July 2nd date earlier this week.
An email (European agency):

Our agency has informed us this morning that the rumors of the decision following the court should have announced this week and to be imminent. Unknown if the cases involved for which the trial took place during this period of time required new trial date or not. Think not. Hope so.

*Updated: This person has clarified a little using their case as an example. Their court date was on May 29th. All of their documents were submitted to the court, but of course their case was not heard because it was for a child abandoned in Addis. The orphanage this child resides has been investigated and cleared. The agency has suggested that cases like this may not require a new court date. The agency believes they may just sign the necessary paperwork to pass the case.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another US agency today is reporting that there won’t be an official decision from the court for another 2 weeks. This is the agency that has been keeping us updated about a meeting with the orphanage directors. The orphanage directors are supposed to call the office of the court in the next 2 weeks to find out the decision.

*Note: There is some conflicting information from the various agencies as far as a timeline for an official decision:
-2 US agencies and 1 European agency have told their clients it will be 2 weeks.
-1 US agency gave a deadline of July 2nd
-2 European agencies say there is a meeting this Friday to discuss a decision

It is possible that the 2 week timeline and the July 2nd timeline are the same information (depending on when the “2 week” wait began), and that the meeting on Friday is something different. We’ll just have to wait and see what unfolds.
From a non-US agency:

I just talked to my agency and they told me, that the meeting that was supposed to take place last friday is now sceduled for this friday. The president of the court is supposed to meet the directors of the orphanages and they try to find a solution on how to proceed. That would be brilliant because it means we don`t have to wait for two more weeks. But my agency also said that you never know whether the meeting really takes place. They confirmed as well that the investigation is definitively over.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A US agency is reporting that the final decision about the abandonment cases is supposed to be issued on July 2, 2009. This was confirmed to their coordinator by the judge today, June 23, 2009. This in-country rep has also heard the rumor that the courts will not close for the summer, but has not received any official word whether it's true.

*Note: This is not from the same agency we've been waiting to hear from concerning the outcome of the meeting, but it's possible that the July 2nd date was what was discussed in today's meeting with the orphanage directors and the court (if they held it).

Monday, June 22, 2009

A US agency is reporting that the scheduled meeting with the orphanage directors (to find out the court's ruling concerning abandonment cases) has been postponed until Tuesday.

Friday, June 19, 2009

From the US agency who expected some sort of announcement today:

The orphanage directors were told that the orphanages had cleared the investigation and we're just waiting to see how the cases will move forward. There was no information given out today so we will have to wait until next week to hear something.
A summary of an update from a different US agency:

There was a scheduled meeting with the court and the orphanage directors today, which was postponed until Monday. The court has received their final police report on the investigation and a ruling is expected on Monday. This ruling will concern all those cases that had court dates that have been postponed.

It is believed (but not confirmed) that MOWA is going to now be responsible for issuing clearance papers on abandoned children, rather than the Bureau of Civil and Social Affairs.
An update from a US agency:

We have word from our staff in Ethiopia that the ban on Abandonment Cases in Addis, has been lifted. We are currently assessing the issue and finding out our next steps to get court dates for those who have been effected by the ban.

*Note: This is a different agency from the one who reported yesterday about a coming announcement.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A summary of an update from a US agency:

An announcement is expected tomorrow, and we think the outcome is going to be positive. All the papers provided by the orphanages were found to be in order.
An email I received:

I have conducted a lot of research and upon hearing the news on the ban, my first impulse was to figure out who I could lobby to get my case through. Now after becoming an expert on Ethiopian affairs, I know that is not the correct approach. What I think we need to focus our efforts on is to ensure that our agencies are pushing the courts to postpone their recess until the situation is resolved. Unlike trying to influence the ban where tinkering in Ethiopian affairs by westerners is shunned, I think this is a doable approach on the grounds that any further delay is not in the best interest of the children being held up by the ban. I would ask that we all get in touch with our agencies and ensure that they are working on this.

*Note: The court apparently shortened their closure a couple years ago, so it would seem they would be open to doing this again. Most agencies should be aware of the rumor about the court closure being canceled this year, as it has been discussed on the JCICS member list serve. As of now though, I've only heard of one US agency who has stated that it is official and not just a rumor.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An email was received this morning from a US agency that gives daily updates:

Our director from our US agency is now in Addis Ababa. They have learned that the investigation is indeed over with the five orphanages have been cleared. The director is hoping to hear something by Friday on how all the families will proceed at this point.
Sorry for no official statements yet on the investigation being over.
An email:

With all this talk about the investigation being over, I thought I’d tell you that our agency says there are two different investigations. There was the overall investigation into why there was such an increase in abandonment cases, and there was also a separate investigation into police corruption. A policeman signed clearances for 17 children before their abandonment period was up. I’d like to know which investigation is over, because if it’s just the police investigation, then they still need to decide how to handle abandonment cases which is why the ban is still in place.

*Note: I’ve heard that the policeman was giving clearances to children after a week, instead of the required 60 days.

Friday, June 12, 2009

An email this morning:

I have just received newsletter from my agency here in [European country].
They have been confirmed both by the leader from the orphanage Edget (which was one of the 5) AND staff from the court that the investigation is OVER and the result was that nothing was found suspecious :-D
They expect new courtdates to be given very soon to the waiting cases :-D

Thursday, June 11, 2009

There has been some contradiction regarding the orphanage Betesaida and whether it’s one of the 5 orphanages that is/was under investigation. A couple non-US agencies have said they believe it to be one of the 5, while a US agency that works with Bete Saida says it is not. It is also possible that Betesaida and Bete Saida are two different institutions, though highly unlikely.

ETA: further information regarding Bete Saida versus Betesaida
(an email I received):

Bete Saida Hitsanat Merja Mahiber is not an orphange under investigation. I know someone that has seen the list and I can assure you they are not under investigation.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

An email:

I received word from our agency that the courts are going to remain open through Aug/Sept. This is great news!

*Note: At least one US agency and 2 European agencies have been hearing this rumor over the last few weeks as well.
Notes from an agency conference call today:

- Our agency stated again that the investigation is over
- This issue is not an agency issue, but an orphanage issue
- They are hoping that next week this will be formally announced, the orphanage directors will be informed on how this will proceed
- Our in country rep thinks this will be resolved very soon and remains optimistic
- They have no idea how court dates will be re-issued and what the time frame will be
One agency’s take on the new court dates being given out to cases from orphanages not involved in the investigation (summarized):

First, the simplified process of abandonment-
-Abandoned child is "found" and brought to orphanage or police
-Police issue a letter of abandonment that starts the 60 day wait
-When 60 day wait is over, orphanage petitions "the Bureau" for a "clearance"
-As soon as "clearance" is received and family's dossier is in
country, all the adoption case paperwork is compiled and a court date
is applied for

This agency says that for a couple weeks now they have been getting
June court dates for kids who have their "clearances", as well as for
kids who have finished the 60 day waiting period, but have not been
issued their "clearance" yet. Getting a court date for a child from
an orphanage that was not involved in the investigation does not mean
the case is going to pass. This agency has gotten new court dates for
children with their police clearances with the understanding that they
will not pass court if the ban is not lifted by the time their court
date comes. This agency has also gotten new court dates for children
without their clearances but knows they will not pass until the
suspension is lifted AND the "clearances" are given [apparently police
clearances are not being given at this time],

Only IF the ban is lifted will kids with their "clearances" that are
being scheduled court dates pass court.

*Note: This explains why some agencies are receiving dates for new
cases, but not receiving new dates for cases who have already been
affected by the hold.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

From a US Agency that gives daily updates :

The orphanages that are affected by the abandonment issue are supposed to go and ask that the ban be lifted concerning the abandoned children. At this time we do not know what the result will be but I’ll let you know what we find out. This hopefully will take place within the next week or so. This is all of the information that I have regarding this at this time.
An agency from outside the U.S. told their clients that last Thursday all the orphanages in Addis had a meeting to choose a delegation of them to meet with the Ministry of Social Welfare “in order to finish as soon as possible”. No mention of when the meeting with the Ministry will take place or if it already has.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The agency who posted last week about the investigation being possibly over says today that while it does indeed appear to be over, the ban is still in place. The individual orphanages are responsible for getting the results of the investigation, and not the agency representatives.

Agency Updates

Recently several agencies have been asking their clients not to post agency updates over the internet. You also may have noticed that I have amended several recent posts at the request of the sources who later felt like they had given away too much information, and didn't want to jeopardize their case or the investigation as a whole. To be respectful, I will no longer be posting any agency names on this blog, nor any word-for-word updates from any agency. However, as so many of us are so desperate for information that we may not be able to get from our own agencies, I will still be posting paraphrases or summaries of agency information from anyone who is willing to share. You can summarize the information any way you choose, and share whatever you feel comfortable. Again, no agency names will be used. I’m hopeful people will still be willing to pass on what they hear to the rest of us. Thank you!

Friday, June 5, 2009

An email I received (amended by the source):

The agency update you posted today seems coherent with what we were told by our agency today; we had planned to fly to Ethiopia... our agency suggested not to cancel our trip just yet but to wait until next week. I guess they have heard the same rumor and hope something happens soon.
An agency update (today):

Dear Families,

I hope you are still staying strong. I wanted to send you an email regarding the Abandonment Children’s Issue in Addis Ababa and my conversation with [Name withheld] this morning. I first want to preference this email by saying that the information was presented to me as RUMORED and not that anything has been officially confirmed or announced, but that this is what some agencies and orphanages in Addis have been discussing among each other. So there may be some truth to some of the information. I generally do not post about what’s “rumored” but I just wanted to give you a sense of what it might be looking like in Ethiopia regarding this issue. I will be traveling to Ethiopia on June 13th for 2 weeks and will look further into this situation while I’m there if it is not resolved before that time.

First of all, my understanding is that the investigation has been completed. This was told to our in country rep by one of the judges. Our rep was at the court to process other families’ adoption cases. This is all of the information that he received from the court and was not given any information regarding what the decision of the investigation is and what was going to be put in place to move forward. The ban has not been lifted as of yet regarding when they will start hearing abandoned children’s cases, as the announcement regarding the investigation or the next steps have not been officially announced. When asked what the decision was, our rep was told to go and find out himself as it is not in the judges power to give that information – it has to be given from a higher authority then her. I asked our rep to go to the proper authority to ask about the results, and he said that it is not an agency issue (except for the agency/agencies who were involved), but that it’s an orphanage issue, and a orphanage director in Addis would have ask for that information . I asked him to have one of the orphanage directors that we work with to go and ask. He noted that no one is going to ask. They want to wait until the orders are officially given, and not rock the boat, so to speak. I did mention to him to have Enat Alem orphanage to go the officials on behalf of our families who are waiting for children from that orphanage. Everyone is concerned about making waves before everything is announced. I will follow up on this when I am in Ethiopia.

[Name withheld] is very hopeful that all of our cases will go through and he has mentioned that even though the information that he is hearing is “rumored”, it’s all positive for the most part.

Unfortunately, our phone conversation disconnected before I could ask further questions or whether he thought your cases would be heard before the courts closed. I tried calling several times after the disconnect but was not able to reach him again. I’ll check in again with you one Monday to let you know if there is anymore information that I have received.

We’ll also be happy to have a conference call with you on Wednesday for those families who would like to be on the call. We’ll email you with the time. If anything more concrete takes place before than were we might need to have the call sooner, we’ll let you know. I know many of you still have questions and concerns. Hopefully this is helpful. At least it looks like it’s moving in the right direction. Again Ethiopia culture is one that doesn’t give out much information until the results are final, but I’ll continue to dig into this and keep you posted.

An agency update from yesterday:

"Good Afternoon Waiting Families:

...I do not have any "new" news to share. The court is still investigating past case files looking for any patterns which fall outside of protocol. As of this week the only situation we are aware of is the one concerning 16 cases which were cleared in one week to one orphanage by one police official. The orphanage is not one in which we work. I can say to you that the attorneys
representing the licensed adoption agencies are asking for a speedy resolution by the court but I will tell you what they have told me and that is the court will resume when they have completed their investigation and not before.

So, we are able to refer children, get medicals and labs, photos and monthly updates. During this suspension we cannot get legal papers on the child, abandonment clearances, review by the MOWA, court dates or finalization hearings."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

(This post was amended at the request of the source):

From a non US-agency it is reported that court dates are now given for abandoned children found in Addis Abeba from the orphanages Kids Care, Almaz Ashene and Sele Enat, and they expect more court dates.

The agency believes that five orphanages seem to be in focus: Enat Alem, Betezata, Edget, Betesaida and Godanaw, and that families with children here have to wait for the investigation to finish before getting court dates.

Unfortunately they have no news as to the status of the police investigation.

(12/6/2011 update: The organization Edget Baandnet Children's Center, located in Awassa, would like it to be known that they are not the Edget mentioned in this post, and that they were not involved in an abandoned children investigation in 2009.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

From an agency representative (on May 29th):

What we were told today, from reputable sources in Ethiopia, was that the investigation will be complete and they will begin hearing cases again of abandoned kids by the end of June. That is really all I know. I guess that is at least a timeline. I am not saying that by the end of June doesn't mean it couldn't be earlier than end of June, but I really don't know that is just what we were told. They will get these cases on the docket through before courts close, I am sure.

Note: At least 2 other agencies have also been hinting about a possible resolution by the end of June.

*Edited to remove the name of the agency. I like to include agency names so people know where the information is coming from (and that it's coming from a reputable source--an adoption agency licensed in Ethiopia), but in this case I've decided to remove it. The person providing the information didn't tell me themselves which agency it was, and I'd like to respect their anonymity.
From CHI:

Still no closure to the abandonment child issue in Addis Ababa as of yet. As far as the questions that have been posed from some families regarding getting a new referral or getting a second referral while the abandonment issue is being investigated, the response was that the abandonment cases waiting must wait and can not be touched/moved until the investigation has been completed. As well, there can not be two cases open in the court for the same family and for different children. I still have no idea when the ban will be lifted; no date or time frame has been given. I have no other information at this time, I am sorry.

Toni Lynch
Ethiopia Adoption Consultant

Monday, June 1, 2009

From CHI:

Abandonment Child Issue
The abandoned child investigation still continues in Addis Ababa. The ban has been lifted on hearing abandonment child cases in the courts for about 3 government orphanages in Addis Ababa, as of this week. We do not work with government orphanages for the referral of children; and outside of those three orphanages at this time, the investigation continues. It is still unknown as to how long the investigation will continue; therefore while it is still in place, we will not be referring abandoned children from Addis Ababa. We are still referring abandoned and relinquished children from outside of Addis Ababa, however. This investigation is something that all agencies will have to wait on to be completed. There is nothing specific to CHI. We will just have to wait for the ruling from the court on how it will proceed with abandoned child cases in Addis, along with the other agencies.

Court Closure
As is standard practice in Ethiopia, the Ethiopia Federal Court closes for the rainy season from August until October each year (some smaller courts in the various regions begin to close for very short periods of time before that). Our Ethiopia staff will be working to get as many adoptions approved in the courts as possible before the time of the court closure. We have not been informed of the actual date that the Federal Courts will close this year but will pass that information along once we receive it. When courts are closed, referrals can still be given and families can still travel to pick up their children, as long as the adoption was approved in the court before the courts closed. Though the adoption process continues it's generally at a slower pace during these months then the rest of the year, as many take vacations and such, during this time in Ethiopia.